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Losing the Binkie: Weaning Your Child Off A Pacifier

Losing the Binkie: Weaning Your Child Off A Pacifier

I have a mom confession. My son, Liam, is three-years-old and up until recently, he still used a pacifier. I’m embarrassed to admit I let his love affair with his binkie go on as long as it did but I hope sharing our journey toward getting rid of it for good might help another parent whose child clings to their pacifier well beyond the acceptable age limits.

It all started just after Liam was born. Liam was a little fussy and a constant nurser. I thought I was going to lose it so, despite the warnings of nearly every breastfeeding expert in existence, I tried a binkie. Immediately he loved it and the nipple confusion I’d been warned about didn’t seem to be an issue for him in the least (he still nursed like a champ). Liam’s need to suck seemed to be unending (literally…he would try to suck on anything he could get his hands mouth on) and the binkie provided some much needed soothing and comfort. Within a few months it became pretty clear we needed to set some limits for the binkie – he would use one constantly if we had allowed it. We did, but his binkie remained his one and only sleep companion. He needed no lovey or blankie – all he needed was that little binkie and off to sleep he went. I’d been told eventually he’d lose interest in the binkie and it would go the way of outgrown toys and clothes. That proved not to be the case with Liam. It’s been a long journey to finally losing it but I’m happy to say our binkie days are 100% behind us. Here is what I learned about weaning your child off a pacifier.

Tips for Helping Your Child Give Up The Pacifier

Boy with pacifier - weaning your child off pacifier1. Talk about the fact that the end of the binkie is coming. A lot. Before we took away the binkie we spent a few weeks talking to Liam about how it was almost time to get rid of it. We wanted to make sure that he fully understood it was coming and that it was part of becoming the big boy he is so excited to be. He seemed to fully accept it as we talked about and would even mention that he was going to get rid of it in the context of talking about being a big boy.

2. Lose it gradually. When Liam was still an infant we saw his love for his binkie needed some boundaries. We decided the binkie would only be allowed for sleeping times moving forward. When he was a toddler we further limited the use of the binkie to only bedtime. While this meant a very slow weaning process, I do think it helped each stage be far less painful and dramatic (for him and for us).

3. …but don’t be afraid to rip the band aid off either. When we finally pulled the plug on the bedtime binkie, we were nervous we’d have a few tough nights of binkie withdrawal. We were shocked when he seemed to take it completely in stride. He did ask for the binkie the first night but was fine when we reminded him we were all done with binkies and hasn’t asked for it since. We had worried and braced ourselves for what turned out to be super easy.

4. Time it with another transition (if possible). We decided to time the “getting rid of the binkie” with Liam’s first night in his big boy bed which he was SO excited to get for Christmas. To us, the timing made sense – binkies don’t belong in big boy beds, right? Plus, he was so excited about the bed, we thought it might help distract from the lack of binkie and change up his old bedtime routine enough that he wouldn’t miss it as much. I can’t say for sure how effective this piece was (maybe he would have been fine in the toddler bed too) but the excitement over the big boy bed definitely helped lessen any sadness over the absence of the binkie. 

How about you? Do you have any binkie weaning tips to add to this list?

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One comment

  1. Profile photo of Media Mom

    Media Mom January 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I love this point for one most basic reason, “Talk about it.” We never really had the pacifier struggle. My daughter fairly easily weaned off it around her first birthday and my son literally started spitting the pacifier out across the room in defiant rejection around 7 months.
    But the whole notion about talking about changes that you fear your child is going to struggle with is so important. When we sneak changes onto our kids, whether that’s sneaking out of a classroom to avoid seeing our kids cry, or ‘accidentally’ losing a security blanket or even sneaking vegetables into a dish, I think we’re ultimately making things easier mostly for ourselves and not giving our kids the lesson that comes with coping with some tough stuff. I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it myself. After all, we all have to pick our own battles and there’s nothing wrong with doing what’s easier for us as parents sometimes — or even lots of times. But having our own kids play a role in things that will have a big impact on them is sometimes worth the pain of a few painful conversations (or meltdowns…)
    So, I loved this post… and the photo. 🙂

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